13 Ways: Someone Like You
Posted on January 7th, 2012
I did not understand what those advantages were myself. I was forty years old, and your Grandfather a decade older. I had spent half of my life supporting him in his work, so I wanted (perhaps more than he did) to see him receive the recognition he deserved. Of course, the Company got accolades and awards, but Harold was never there to accept them. Yet, he remained the most knowledgable, powerful, and respected man inside the organisation. I think that was enough for him. I don’t think he required more of society than that.
As for my work, well, I was busy with that, too, and the next decade of our lives was exciting and filled with pleasure, not the least of which was having our daughter – who came as quite a surprise, but a delightful one. Those were good years – wonderful years, in fact.
The accident happened on my 50th birthday, Helen. Did I ever tell you that? Not a good way to celebrate. I don’t recommend it.
My sculpture had always commanded much of my time, energy, and devotion. Massive things that they were, I suppose I should have imagined I might one day become too careless or distracted in my studio and topple one over on myself. To be destroyed by one’s own creation is rather a cliché, don’t you think? One has either to laugh or cry. Obviously, being in a wheelchair and paralysed from the waist down is no laughing matter, darling; yet, I do try to grin at the unfunny and to bear the unbearable, in order to get on in the world.
The accident was my own damn fault, truth be told. Usually, I would not have been working alone on a large piece such as that, but I had Janie to care for, who was on school holidays – as were my young assitants from the Art Institute. Janie was nine at the time, and keen to see what I was working on, as I was keen to show her. I thought perhaps she might take an interest in sculpture herself.
Your Mother, you know, always blamed herself for the disaster that befell us. Poor darling! Did you know that, Helen? She had never before visited my studio when work was in progress. She could not have known not to press her weight against the pillar. And anyway, it should have supported her, and would have done so, if my assistants had not left it precariously balanced against the warehouse beam. Oh, how I hate remembering the look on her face when she realised it was falling and falling towards me.
Well, scared though she was, Janie was always a smart and capable little girl, and she ran to call for help right away, bless her. And when I awoke in hospital, there she was – standing beside my bed, and holding my hand.
But two things became apparent to me within moments of waking up: one was that I could not feel my legs, and the other was that Harold was not with us. When I tried to speak with Janie about her father, she collapsed upon me, sobbing.
I called for a nurse, who came immediately. It was this nurse, and the doctor who followed after, who explained many terrible things to me.
I had been in a medically-induced coma for two weeks.
My spinal cord had been severed.
Harold had been the first person Janie phoned that night.
My Harold, always with a level head – so calm through every storm – must have panicked at hearing his child in a state of hysteria, trying to ask for help. He would have known something terrible must have occurred – whatever Janie was able to explain or not explain – since I had not phoned him myself.
Well, Helen, your Grandfather must have driven like a wild man, and I can only be grateful that his partner had the foresight to phone an ambulance to come to my studio for Janie and me, because Harold never made it. My darling husband wrapped himself around a pole and died immediately of massive head trauma.